Richt with an impassioned defense of UGA drug policy

semerson@macon.comJuly 29, 2013 

Audio: Mark Richt's defense of UGA drug policy.

GWINNETT - Mark Richt literally stood up to defend UGA's drug policy on Monday night, cementing his desire to keep it, even if it leaves the Georgia football team at a competitive disadvantage.

Near the tail end of a fan event, Richt was asked about the drug policy, which is among the harshest in the SEC. The fan asked whether it was fair for LSU to have a player fail numerous drug tests and then help defeat Georgia in the SEC championship game.

Some fans applauded, but Richt didn't take the bait. He once again took the opportunity to defend the drug policy, which calls for a one-game suspension for a first offense, and four-game suspension for a second offense.

"I'll stump a little bit," Richt said as he got off his chair.

"I don't want our guys to smoke marijuana. I don't want our guys to do anything illegal. I don't want our guys to do anything that they shouldn't be doing. So when you have policies that have a lot of teeth to it ... The No. 1 thing our guys want is what? They want playing time. Well if I take that away from them, then that might teach the lesson a little bit better than not. You know what I'm saying?

"Sometimes people say, well you don't have any control of the team because you've got guys suspended. No, we gain control and we keep control of the team through suspending people because that's how we discipline, that's how we punish. ... If you've got a kid who's not behaving the way you want, you're gonna take away what they want the most, because you're gonna stick 'em."

He added soon afterwards: "That's how we go about it. I'm not gonna apologize for it."

Richt finished by reiterating that he wished other programs had the same drug policy, but not by Georgia changing its own.

"I'd love if everybody had the same level playing ground. That would be great. But I don't think we should go towards them to get a level playing field. I'd rather they come to us."

At that, Richt received a warm round of applause from the audience.

Josh Harvey-Clemons, one of the team's key defensive players, is suspended for the season opener at Clemson. Last year two more key defensive players, Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo, were suspended for the first four games.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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